Traffic chaos and flood at Duff's Bottom gas station [Photo Astrid Wenzke]
Torrential Rain causes more problems than Hurricane
The government of the BVI continues to assess the damage from the
persistent heavy rains that plagued the territory since November 8th.
Inclement weather disrupted life in the territory as a strong tropical
disturbance affected the islands, bringing heavy persistent rains daily,
clearing some only early this week.
The Department of Disaster Management reported 6.1 inches of rain up to
last Sunday. But other equally reliable sources have reported as much as
16 inches up to Saturday last week.
Several roads, including the main road into Ballast Bay/Cane Garden Bay,
Belle Vue and Paraquita Bay were blocked with mud, debris and fallen trees
for some time, causing traffic to back up for hours as residents tried to
get home after work last Friday. Some roads were also undermined and
motorists are asked to continue to exercise caution.
Severe flooding occurred in the Pasea Estate area in the vicinity of
Riteway supermarket and also around the Wickham's Cay roundabout, adding to
the traffic congestion and causing significant damage to several Main
Street businesses. An electronic equipment sales, service and repair
business in the Purcell Estate area suffered substantial damage. Water
levels rose to the bonnet level of vehicles in these areas, stalling some
cars as they tried to drive through the flood.
A Mitsubishi lancer set ablaze Saturday afternoon in the J. R. O'Neal Plaza
after it ran out of gas when the owner tried unsuccessfully to start
it. No one was hurt in this incident. The Fire and Rescue Services
department extinguished the fire before the car was destroyed.
Crews from the Public Works Department, with help from many private
individuals, worked tirelessly to clear blocked ghuts and drains throughout
the territory and by late Friday evening, much of the roads were cleared.
In the main, the road networks and specific communities across Tortola were
affected by either rock fall or landslides or by flooding.
Jost Van Dyke experienced rock and landslides in Little Harbour, but there
were no rock or landslides reported on Virgin Gorda. Jost Van Dyke also
experienced substantial flooding in the Great harbour area around the
school and district clinic, while Virgin Gorda experienced flooding at Nail
Bay. There was no significant flooding reported in Anegada.
Reports are some residents in the Cane Garden Bay, Sea Cow's Bay, Road Town
and Ballast Bay areas had to receive relief assistance from the BVI Red
Cross, by way of bedding, roofing, clothing and home care.
Schools throughout the territory were also affected and classes had to be
called off for over a week. Particularly hard hit was the BVI High School,
which reported over saturated grounds.
A number of events were also postponed due to the inclement weather,
including the BUY BVI trade Show, scheduled for November 14th and
15th. The venue, the Sir Rupert Briercliffe Hall, was reported to be
flooded rendering it unusable.
Chief Minister Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith said he and his
Ministers had surveyed the damage, put a damage assessment team together
and they were scheduled to report on the initial damage this week. The
Damage Assessment Team, comprising officials from Public Works, Town and
Country Planning, Conservation and Fisheries, Environmental Health and the
Department of Disaster Management, are compiling the initial damage costs.
Chief Minister Smith thanked everyone for their community spirit in helping
out their neighbours in this time.
In a radio address aired on Wednesday Chief Minister Smith said: "Looking
forward, we must recognize the difficulty of the work ahead. We understand
the hardships that have been borne already, and we must prepare ourselves
for further inconvenience in the coming days.
"Let it be perfectly clear: In the work that lies ahead no resident of
these islands shall stand alone. This government is absolutely committed
with all of its energy and all of its resources to stand
shoulder-to-shoulder with every homeowner and every business; every
neighborhood and every community to act as full partners in clearing the
waters, repairing the damage and quickly returning to our normal lives."
Dr. the Hon. Orlando Smith announced the formation of a Reconstruction Task
Force: "The relevant government agencies are now in the process of putting
together a plan to provide the necessary funding for all recovery efforts.
"We are exploring all options including externally and as a first step we
propose to make funds available to the Development Bank to on-lend to those
in need at a very reasonable rate of interest. Obviously this lending will
be based on clearly established criteria. We are also calling on all other
relevant institutions, including the Social Security Board to provide
whatever assistance and support they can."
Leader of the Opposition the Honourable Ralph T. O'Neal also commended
everyone for pulling together and he said government would have the
opposition's support in the restoration effort.
The Department of Disaster Management continues to encourage motorists to
continue to watch out for floodwaters and additional landslides. Persons
whose homes are near to unstable areas are advised to be on the alert.
The Environmental Health Division is advising the public to boil all
drinking water. Homes that have been flooded should be cleaned with a mild
The public is also being advised that water distribution points have been
set up at East End Police station, Cane Garden Bay Police Station and the
home of Tonya Bertie in Little Apple Bay.
The Water and Sewerage Department is offering water testing at its Baughers
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